‘Alumina dust’ issue fixed, Berkeley Co. plant returns to normal operations
BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Mt. Holly Century Aluminum plant in Berkeley County has officially returned to stable, normal operations, according to plant officials.
Goose Creek community members have been concerned for months about seeing what’s called ‘alumina dust’ on everything outside their homes.
Century confirmed they had four “events.” One happened on Sept. 3, two on Sept. 16 and another on Sept. 30.
Century has been working with the Department of Health and Environmental control as they addressed two issues that lead to those “events.”
“With the help of nearly sixty of our internal personnel and external contractors and experts, we have completed both “descaling” our emissions system and replacing collector bags that capture alumina dust according to the schedule provided to DHEC,” Century Aluminum released in a statement. “Taken together, this work has stabilized our emissions process, bringing us back into normal operations.”
After DHEC was notified about the alumina dust, the agency deployed portable air sensors in the area to measure any smaller, breathable particulate matter, called “fine particulate matter.”
DHEC says it’s important to know that the data will represent all particulate matter in the area, not just from a single source or single facility. There can be many different sources of particulate matter emissions within an area. The data from these sensors will help the agency identify any air quality trends in the community.
Century says they have set up a website where residents should report their personal situation. They can also call a hotline number at 312-696-3131.
A spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control provided the following statement:
According to the facility, the first phase of its improvements has been completed, which should significantly reduce the potential for future excess releases. DHEC is continuing to investigate the cause and implications of the excess emissions. We have not issued any citations or penalties at this time. Our investigation is ongoing.
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